What to do if you are the subject of a complaint

The Ontario College of Pharmacists responds to complaints and reports about pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, registered pharmacy students and interns. The complaints process is principled and balanced to ensure fairness to all parties, while at all times protecting the public.

  • Review the complaints process
  • Respond promptly to all communications from the College and co-operate with the investigation
  • Provide any information that the College requests – including information that may be considered confidential
  • You have the right to obtain a legal representative to assist you if you wish to do so
  • Refrain from discussing the matter with the complainant after the official complaint is filed
  • If you fail to respond promptly to communications from the College, co-operate with the College or provide information at the College’s request, you may be subject to discipline proceedings (in addition to any proceedings relating to the original complaint)

Process

Notice of Complaint

  • You will receive a Notice of Complaint if a complaint has been filed against you
  • You have 30 days to provide a written response and any pharmacy records that we have requested

The Investigation

  • The College reviews and considers every complaint we receive.
  • College staff may ask you for an oral interview or visit your pharmacy.
  • The staff member investigating the complaint may request information from you, your colleagues or other witnesses. You may also be requested to produce documents that relate to the matters under investigation, such as patient files. You must respond promptly and completely.

Results of the Investigation

  • The staff member investigating the complaint will submit a report to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC)
  • A panel of the ICRC deliberates over the information and makes a decision about how to dispose of the complaint
  • The ICRC has a number of options available to it. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Panel can:
    • Refer the member and specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee
      • A small fraction of complaints that are reviewed by the ICRC are referred to the Discipline Committee. These complaints usually involve serious matters where the panel is of the view that the member may have been dishonest, in breach of trust, appears to show a wilful disregard of professional values, and/or appears to be unable to practise professionally or competently
    • Refer the member to another panel of the ICRC for health inquiries
      • Where the investigation reveals that the conduct may be caused by an illness, disorder or substance abuse, the panel may refer to another panel of the ICRC to conduct health inquiries
    • Require the member to complete a Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program (SCERP)
      • The ICRC has the ability to require a member to take specified remedial courses. The courses would be tailored to address concerns about a member’s practice formulated by the panel after it reviewed the investigation report
    • Issue a caution to the member
      • Cautions require the member to attend in person before a panel of the ICRC providing the panel with an opportunity to have a “face to face” discussion with the member about its concerns about the member’s practice and to hear from the member about the changes he or she will make to avoid a similar incident from occurring in the future
    • Take no action against the member
      • This often occurs when the panel is of the view that the member’s conduct and/or actions appear to be in compliance with the standards of practice of the profession, the generally accepted standard adopted by members of the profession, and all other relevant laws and regulations that apply
    • Take other action not inconsistent with the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991
      • ICRC has the ability to take other action it considers appropriate as long as it is not inconsistent with the RHPA

ICRC’s Decision and Appeal

  • Once the ICRC disposes of a complaint both parties will receive a copy of the panel's decision
  • Either party may request a review of the decision and reasons by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) unless the decision is to refer specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee or to refer to another panel of the ICRC to conduct health inquiries

Timelines

The length of time it takes to resolve or close a complaint depends on the nature of the complaint and its complexity. Most complaints are resolved or the file is closed upon receipt of ICRC’s decision – without the need for further action such as a regulatory hearing.